Croatian midfielder Mario Pašalić is one of many Chelsea players who have been on the club’s books for a good while, but have never actually played for the club (outside of maybe preseason) and have instead spent their years on Loan Army duty.
Pašalić, after stints at Elche, Monaco, Milan, and Spartak Moscow, is currently on loan at Atalanta, back in the Italian Serie A. He’s been in this league before and has had some success (just as he’s had at all his stops), but he’s hoping this finally might be his way out of the endless cycle.
“I’ve been around too many cities, too many teams, and it’s a struggle when you’re always on loan. I’d like a club where I can stay for two or three years, so I can understand what I can really do. If it’s not Chelsea, then I hope it’s Atalanta.”
Pašalić played a bit part in preseason and that time with Sarri has apparently kept alive some hope of still making it with the parent club.
“I watch them every now and then. In a week with them training in Australia, I got to breathe in the Sarri style of football: quality and aggression, possession and pressing, all combined beautifully.”
But that’s just a long shot. A more permanent future elsewhere is a much more realistic ambition. He’s made 8 appearances already for Atalanta this season, finding the back of the net twice in all competitions.
“I don’t regret leaving, because what good would it have done me to sit on the bench? I don’t belong at Chelsea right now, or at any top club, because I still need to figure out if I can reach that level. I can’t do that without playing regularly for two or three years.
“I might return to Chelsea, I might realise that Atalanta is my big club, but either way I don’t want to make the wrong decision.”
-Mario Pašalić; source: Gazzetta dello Sport via Football Italia
These decisions are never easy. Good luck, Mario!